Instagram does not allow “content that contains credible threats or hate speech, content that targets private individuals to degrade or shame them, personal information meant to blackmail or harass someone, and repeated unwanted messages”. In its policies, Instagram highlights that they allow “stronger conversations around people who are featured in the news or have a large public audience due to their profession or chosen activities”.
Instagram also bans violence or attacks based on race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, disabilities, or diseases. Just like Facebook, sharing and re-sharing posts of certain abusive content may be allowed if it is clear that the purpose is “to condemn or draw attention to bullying and harassment.”
(See what other social media platforms do to combat online harassment here)
Like other social media platforms, Instagram encourages users to report abusive behaviors. Teams of moderators around the world review these reports and decide if the content doesn’t meet their guidelines and needs to be removed (See more in the following questions). Instagram has also used artificial intelligence to detect bullying and other types of harmful content in comments, photos and videos. In 2019, Instagram announced a feature powered by AI “that notifies people when their comment may be considered offensive before it’s posted”. Learn more about how Instagram is responding to abuse here.
If someone is harassing you on Instagram or if you see something that you think may violate their guidelines, you should first document and take screenshots of the posts. Then you could file a report on the platform (see next questions) and consider other options like unfollowing or blocking the person who posted it.
You should also ask your friends, family, or communities to help you report abusive behavior. You could rally a community publicly (public post or comment) or privately (via closed group).
(Learn more about some of the steps you should take if you are experiencing online harassment)
If you have an Instagram account, you can report abuse or anything else that doesn’t follow Instagram Community Guidelines from within the app.
To report a post:
To report a profile:
You could also send reports using Instagram on the web. To report someone’s account, go to their profile and click next to their username. Select Report user. Then click the type of account you want to report and follow the on-screen instructions. To report a post, click in the top right of the post. Then click Report inappropriate and follow the on-screen instructions.
You could also select mute and restrict or simply eliminate the comment.
According to Instagram, “when you report an inappropriate comment, your report is anonymous, meaning your information is never shared with the person who posted the comment”.
You can report abusive photos, videos, and messages that are sent to you with Instagram Direct:
Instagram also mentions that if you’d like to report a post from Feed that was sent to you with Instagram Direct, you can tap the post and report it.
If you want to report any content intended to bully or harass someone, you could also file a report using this form. You will have to provide as many details as possible to help the platform review the issue.
In April 2021, Instagram added a new feature to the messages requests section which allows you to filter offensive words, comments and emojis. Instagram has a predefined list of offensive terms, but you can also create your own custom list of words. You can activate this option by going to your Privacy Settings and choosing Hidden Words.
Yes, if you don’t have an Instagram account, you can report abuse, spam or anything else by using this form. You may need to provide links, usernames, and descriptions of the content.
Find out more about your legal rights and remedies under both federal and state law here.
If someone created an account pretending to be you, you should report it to Instagram as soon as possible. If you have an Instagram account, you can report it from within the app, or by filling out this form. If you don’t have an Instagram account, you could fill out this form.
If you are being impersonated, it could be a good idea to alert your contacts on social media. However, don’t tag the abuser or repost their posts, instead, you could share a screenshot of the account.
Keep in mind that Instagram will only respond to reports from the person who’s being impersonated or a representative of the person who’s being impersonated (example: a parent). You will need to submit a photo of your government-issued ID.
Instagram highlights in its policies that:
“US federal law doesn’t allow private parties to obtain account content (example: comments, photos and so on) from providers like Instagram”.
Instagram “may provide reasonably available basic subscriber information (not content), if any, only where the requested information is indispensable to a case and not within a party’s possession upon personal service of a valid subpoena or court order and after notice to affected account holders”.
“Your subpoena or Court order must be directed to the entity mentioned in the terms of service that are applicable to your use of the Instagram service (i.e. Facebook Ireland or Facebook, Inc., depending on where you are domiciled meaning if serving the subpoena on Facebook, Inc., the subpoena must be a valid federal, California or California domesticated subpoena, addressed to and served on Facebook, Inc. If serving Facebook Ireland Limited, the subpoena or court order must be addressed to and served on Facebook Ireland Limited.”
If you believe a photo or video violates your privacy, you can report it to Instagram by filling out this form. The reported content needs to involve you, your child (under 13) or another person for whom you’re the legal representative or guardian. Instagram says that photos or videos involving anyone else will need to be reported by the individual themselves.
It’s important to note that Instagram only takes action on private information “if it’s associated with the person reporting it or if they receive documentation that the reporter is authorized to act on behalf of the person whose private information has been posted.”
If someone is posting personal information, you could also check if that data is publicly available online by using “people finder” websites like Spokeo, Anywho.com and Intelius. You can also set up alerts for yourself using Google Alerts; set up alerts for your full name, as well as any social media handles that you use. Finally, consider doing a reverse image search to find out if a photo has been posted on the web.
(Learn more about how to de-dox yourself)
If you think your account has been hacked or taken over, Instagram recommends you take the following actions:
To report a hacked account on Instagram:
Be sure to enter a secure email address that only you can access. Once you’ve submitted your request, be on the lookout for an email from Instagram with the next steps.
Once you complete these steps, Instagram will send you specific instructions to recover your account at the secure email address you provided.
To request a login link:
If you’re still able to log into your Instagram account, here are some things you can do to help keep your account secure:
See this video to learn how to activate the two-factor authentication:
(In our Technical Safety Guide you will find useful information like how to set up the two-factor authentication and make your passwords stronger)
Instagram recommends taking the following steps:
If you’re under 18:
(Check out our Know your Rights section, where we will walk you through some key definitions you might need when talking to a lawyer and/or law enforcement, what federal and state laws are there to keep you safe, as well as what to expect if you go to the police)
In April 2021, Instagram announced that “whenever you decide to block someone on Instagram, you’ll have the option to both block their account and preemptively block new accounts that person may create”
When you block someone, that person won’t be able to find your profile, posts or stories. Keep in mind that blocking can mask the threats and make it harder to determine the risk you’re facing, however it will help you to restrict your interaction with the abuser if you are being constantly attacked or feeling overwhelmed.
Here is what happens after you block someone on Instagram:
If you don’t want to block someone, you can remove them as a follower or block them from commenting on your photos and videos. People aren’t notified when you block them.
When you block someone from commenting, they can still view your photos and videos. Any new comments from them won’t be visible to anyone else except for them.
To block someone from commenting on your photos and videos:
If you are reluctant to block or unfollow your harasser (either because you want to track the threat or because you feel that by doing that you can escalate the situation), you can restrict someone without notifying them.
Here are the actions taken by Instagram if you restrict someone:
There are multiple ways to restrict someone:
Find out more about these methods here.
You could delete multiple comments, block and restrict multiple accounts at the same time on your Instagram posts.
From the iOS Instagram app:
From the Android Instagram app:
According to Instagram, “comments that may be inappropriate, offensive or bullying are automatically filtered out from your posts, stories and live videos. Comments are filtered automatically by default, but you can always change this setting”.
You can activate this option by following these steps:
You can also turn on a keyword filter to hide comments that contain specific words, phrases, numbers or emoji that you’d like to avoid.
“When you turn on comment filtering, it’s applied to both new and existing comments on your posts. When you turn off comment filtering, filtered comments on your posts will be restored”.
Keep in mind that you can also block comments from a specific profile. Furthermore, in October 2020, Instagram started testing a new feature that automatically hides comments similar to others that have been reported. You can tap “View Hidden Comments” to see the content that was hidden.
Comment warning is a feature powered by AI that notifies people when their comment may be considered offensive before it’s posted. According to Instagram, “this intervention gives people a chance to reflect and undo their comment and prevents the recipient from receiving the harmful comment notification. From early tests of this feature, we have found that it encourages some people to undo their comment and share something less hurtful once they have had a chance to reflect”.
You can turn off commenting to prevent people from commenting on an individual post. When you turn off commenting, any comments that are currently on your post will be hidden.
You can also turn off commenting for a post before you share it. On the screen where you add a caption or location to your post, tap Advanced Settings, then tap Turn Off Commenting.
If you turn commenting back on for a post, previous comments will be restored and people will be able to comment again.
On iOS, tap on a comment and then choose the dotted icon in the top right corner. Select Manage Comments and choose up to 25 comments to delete at once. You can also tap More Options to block or restrict accounts in bulk. According to Instagram, “to block or restrict accounts on Android, press and hold on a comment, tap the dotted icon and select Block or Restrict”.
The feature Pinned Comment allows you to pin a select number of comments to the top of your comments thread. This feature gives you a way to set the tone for your account and amplify positive comments.
You can choose whether you want everyone, only people you follow, or no one to be able to tag you in a comment, caption or Story. Go to settings, tap Privacy and in Interactions, choose who can mention you.
Don’t forget to check out our Online Haraassment resources and the rest of the Social Media Safety Guides.